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Joe Weinert

Atlantic City Roundup

29 July 2003

ATLANTIC CITY -- Donald Trump said he's all but abandoned the notion of building a fourth, skyscraper casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Not that seemingly anybody thought he was really going to go ahead with such a project, anyway.

"Because of the politics in Atlantic City, probably we're not going to develop that site," Trump said during his casino company's second-quarter earnings conference call. "Probably CRDA (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority) should buy that site from us and they should pay a lot of money for it."

Trump was referring to the vacant site that until fall 1999 housed the Trump World's Fair Casino, an annex to Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino one block away. Trump vowed to replace the World's Fair first with a 4,000-room, $750 million casino hotel there and later a 62-story, $1.5 billion gaming hall.

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, however, had only a 2.5-acre site with which to work and has been unable to borrow funds at anything less than steep junk-bond rates.

Trump Hotels, meanwhile, reported a 7 percent decline in second-quarter cash flow, to $75.5 million, on net revenue of $306.9 million, down negligibly. It reported a net loss of $10 million, or 46 cents per share, compared to a net profit of $244,000, or a penny per share, a year earlier.

Trump Hotels blamed bad early-spring weather, higher taxes and utility costs, and the war in Iraq for the declines.


Trump Taj Mahal is giving the public a free treat this week: a dazzling outdoor light show similar to those staged at millennium festivals in Beijing, Athens and Budapest.

The Taj hired renowned light artist Gert Hoff to develop the show along the Taj's Boardwalk frontage. Thousands showed up for the Saturday night premier, which included pyrotechnics and a Bruce Springsteen soundtrack.

The show continues twice nightly through Aug. 2.

"We thought it was a statement by us," said Steve Gietka, vice president of entertainment for the Trump casinos. "We thought, 'Are we in the gaming business or are we in the mega-event business?' We're re-establishing Trump Taj Mahal as the eighth wonder of the world."


The Atlantic City casino industry received another competitive reprieve from neighboring Pennsylvania when the state Senate killed a racetrack-slots bill passed by the House six days earlier.

The House bill would have allowed 3,000 slots at each of nine racetracks, plus one stand-alone slot casino Philadelphia and one in Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania legislators are expected to resume discussion on gambling expansion this fall.


Greyhound Lines, the country's largest intercity busing company, marked the 20th anniversary of its Lucky Streak service between New York and Atlantic City.

The Dallas-based carrier operates 36 daily Lucky Streak trips to Atlantic City from the New York Port Authority and up to 43 on weekends, making it the busiest route in the Greyhound system.

Only July 4, Greyhound set a company record by carrying more than 4,000 customers from New York to Atlantic City in one day.

Greyhound also operates Lucky Streak service to Las Vegas, Reno and Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.


Early indications are that the new Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa is having little to no impact on existing casinos, according to four companies who have reported second-quarter results.

Although the $1.1 opened two days after the quarter ended, analysts peppered gaming executives about the Borgata impact.

"All the other casinos in town are empty. Every single person is at the Borgata," Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman quipped.

Actually, business at Harrah's two Atlantic City casinos through the first three weeks of July was "essentially flat compared to a very strong last July," Chief Operating Officer Tim Wilmott said.

Park Place Entertainment, which owns three Atlantic City casinos, said revenue "remains steady" in July.

Trump Hotels said Borgata neither hurt its two Boardwalk casinos as much as it expected, but it also didn't help the nearby Trump Marina as much as it expected.

Business at Aztar's Tropicana is down, partially because of a major expansion project underway and partially because the casinos chose not to spend big marketing dollars to compete against Borgata, CEO Paul Rubeli said.

(Joe Weinert covers the gaming industry for The Press of Atlantic City. He can be reached at